I used to go to a church that had an orchestra playing on Sunday morning. I had a conversation with a friend the other day who had the same experience. We discussed how it was when we changed churches and the ‘new’ places don’t have what we were used to hearing. To hear only a piano and our voices really sounded different to my ears. What is neat is that not only did I adjust–I began to notice that I could hear the emotion that’s expressed in everyone’s voices as we sing. I sense our unity as we worship together. I told my friend we are really getting into it and some of these songs are 200 years old! (We also sing some that were written recently.) I always look to see who wrote what we are singing and when it was written. Yesterday, the oldest hymn we sang was written in 1561. Sometimes we sing from the Psalter and, of course, those songs are much older than our oldest hymn.
So, what’s the big deal about it being old? I like to think of all the Believers down through the centuries who have sung the same song as I’m singing it. Just think of all the folks in Europe (if it’s that old) and all the pioneers in early America and on up to now. We all are singing the same words of adoration and we are all strengthened and encouraged by them. There is a continuity and unity in that which is very comforting to me.
The same thing happens when I read a book written by a Christian who lived a long time ago. I think of all the other Christians over the years who have read and pondered the very same words. Sometimes when I read my Bible, I think of all the Christians over the centuries who have read these words in their own languages. And even at the moment I am reading and praying, there are Christians all over the world who are also reading their Bibles and we are praying to the same God; we are all part of His family.
The church is surely not a building or an organization. It is an organism that goes back to Genesis. Since the resurrection, this spiritual organism the Bible calls the Body of Christ has spread into all the world, encompassing all nations, tribes and languages–a spiritual community of believers who have been ransomed by the blood of Christ, forgiven of sin, and who are learning to walk in the ways of Jesus and look forward to seeing Him soon. And then we’ll all meet each other. What a family reunion that will be!